Is it legal for cannabis companies to sponsor concerts in Canada? Maybe not.

Once upon a time, tobacco companies could advertise their wares by sponsoring culture events, including music festivals. For example, if you’re in Toronto, you might remember the annual jazz festival was underwritten by Du Maurier cigarettes. All that’s been banned now.

The impending legalization of pot in Canada is bringing new challenges to regulators. Over the last year or so, plenty of cannabis companies have been seen with signage and booths at gigs and music festivals. Some (like we saw last night in Toronto with a free Wu-Tang show sponsored by HEXO Corporation) are paying for full tours.

That kind of artist-weed-money relationship keeps growing. Aurora Cannabis, one of the largest companies, has held contests where prizes include free tickets to see Queens of the Stone Age, The Cult, Sam Roberts and Kings of Leon. Canopy Growth underwrote gigs for Kendrick Lamar and Jethro Tull.

Given that the smokable end of the burgeoning cannabis industry has much in common with tobacco from a regulatory point of view, these sponsorships may not be legal. Health Canada has raised some concerns about this.

It says it’s looking at how “some federally licensed producers of cannabis for medical purposes sponsoring events, such as music festivals, and engaging in other promotional activities.”

We’re still very much in a grey area when it comes to this whole legalization thing. Watch things really start to change when the Cannabis Act comes into effect on October 17. Governments will begin to enforce how cannabis products can be marketed and advertised, just like we see with alcohol and tobacco.

This is going to be interesting. More at the CBC.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Is it legal for cannabis companies to sponsor concerts in Canada? Maybe not.

  • October 2, 2018 at 9:41 am

    What about The Front Lawn Shindig that Canopy Growth Corp puts on every year @ it’s Tweed plant in Smiths Falls ON? This years acts included Snoop Dogg, who is a part owner (as is Marth Stewart, btw).


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